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October 8, 2017

Peavy Arboretum

by Jim

Peavy Arboretum
This is in Peavy Arboretum, taken for the WWP “Wood” project.

(Click here to view the interactive picture in a new tab. When it opens, click and drag to look around.)

This picture was taken in the Peavy Arboretum, gateway to the research forest managed by Oregon State University (OSU). It was my entry for the World Wide Panorama “Wood” project.

The research forest has a number of groves in which tree growth is monitored and experiments are run to understand principles of forest management and biology.

This picture was taken on the Intensive Management Trail, as the sign indicates. The link with the WWP Wood theme should be obvious, but this picture is also interesting because of the arrangement of the trees. It turns out the trees in this grove are planted in a regular pattern. The pattern is somewhat visible if you look at the area in Google satellite view, and is clear if you look down the path to the right of the sign.

The pattern is less clear, even disappears entirely, when looking at other directions. The pattern also comes and goes if you walk around and look at the forest from different viewpoints. There are some clear metaphors here with how we see the world around us. Viewpoints affect what we see, so changing them can reveal things we never noticed before. That may mean looking at things from a different place, or turning around and looking in a different direction.

For example, it’s easy to reject any kind of transcendent perspective if we look at the world from the viewpoint of science. While a powerful and useful tool for many things, science isn’t the best approach for some aspects of human life (try using the scientific method on your spouse). Human relationships can seem like irrational nonsense if we try to analyze them scientifically. But if we change our perspective to one based on love, for example, then those same relationships seem reasonable, perhaps even make sense.

We have a lot of control over our perspectives. We can see the glass half full or half empty. We can try to look at things from another person’s point of view, or we can focus strictly on our own opinions. We can live in the awareness of the spiritual, or limit our focus to the physical.

Personally, I think we’re able to see more around us than we realize, if only we choose the right perspective.

Photography Notes
In order to get the downward view, I took a downward-looking view (a nadir shot) from off-center, and used software to blend it into the overall picture. I took a number of nadir shots to make sure that one would work. Unfortunately, the three shadows were moving as the pictures were being taken, and they were no longer lined up by the time the best nadir shot was taken. Because of this, it took a bit of fiddling to make things seem aligned. Most people will not notice the soft artifacts that resulted, but they are there.

This was all made more complex by the fact that multiple exposures were needed to get a reasonable picture. The range of brightnesses in the scene made it hard to capture everything from the shadows to bright tree bark, so I used 5 bracketed exposures and HDR processing to get this result. This slowed down the process, increasing the shift in shadows, and making the final processing more complex.

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